Payment of Rs 11,000 crore is yet to be made to farmers of Haryana in lieu of purchase of their wheat, even though food grains worth Rs 7,700 crore have reached government godowns.
According to official figures, as much as 64 lakh MT wheat was procured in the grain markets of the state till Tuesday at Rs 1,925 per quintal. The total comes to Rs 12,320 crore, but a senior functionary admitted payment of only Rs 3,957 crore has been made to the arhtiyas for farmers till Wednesday night. “The farmers have got about Rs 1000 crore till now even as the payment of Rs 3,957 crore has been made to the arhtiyas,” he added.
Wheat procurement had started in Haryana on April 20, though it starting taking place effectively on April 23 because of three days strike by the arhtiyas (commission) agents in the state.
“The farmers are waiting for their payment,” says Mandeep Nathwan, convener of Kisan Sanghrash Samiti. Congress MLA from Dabwali, Amit Sihag said, “The government had promised the farmers that the payment will be made to them within three days of procurement of their produce.”
From this crop season, the government had announced it would make direct payment to farmers “to protect them from the exploitation by arhtiyas”. However, arhtiyas, who procure crops from farmers for government agencies in lieu of commission from the government, opposed the move.
They said that if the payments were made directly to the farmers, they won’t able to recover their advance from them.
Following the arhtiyas’ stir, the government agreed to make payments through arhtiyas, but the arhtiyas were asked to submit consent papers procured from farmers after transferring payment to them through RTGS.
But, officials believe, the arhtiyas take consultation from their charted accountants before submitting such documents to avoid any legal hassles regarding disclosure of loans to the farmers. “As per provisions, we can’t release another payment to the arhtiyas till they submit the consent papers of farmers regarding previous payment,” said an official.
Arhtiyas blame the complex system of payment through different channels for the delay. President of Haryana State Anaj Mandi Arhtiyas Association Ashok Gupta said, “We are supposed to submit documents through a web portal which is full of deficiencies. The arhtiyas are also not internet savvy and no training was imparted to them before introducing the system.”
According to Gupta, the government has made payment to the arhtiyas in lieu of wheat procurement of the first five days only. “There are many arhtiyas who have not been made any payment to farmers till now. In our Ladwa Mandi, almost 90 per cent wheat of the total procurement has been lifted from the grain market. The government must release the payment as early as possible. If the payment system does not improve soon, the arhtiyas may resort to agitation,” claimed Gupta.
Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister JP Dalal said the web portal issue has been resolved. “The government has already approved payment of Rs 7,700 crore to be made to the farmer through arhtiyas. We release the payment as soon as we receive consent forms from the arhtiyas.”
The minister said they count completion of procurement process only after lifting wheat from mandis to the godowns. “The lifting process is slow and till now about 40 lakh MT wheat has been taken to the godowns because of labour crunch and adverse weather conditions,” said the minister.
“Being a new system, the arhtiyas delayed in submitting the formalities. We have introduced this system to protect farmers from any type of exploitation. Almost two-third of the total estimated procurement has already taken place in the mandis,” he added.
Officials admitted that the government has been able to make less than 50 per cent payment to arhtiyas to further transfer it to the farmers in lieu of the mustard procurement too till now.
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